Friday, January 04, 2008

Barak Obama makes history

and we are alive to witness it! I really didn't think he'd pull off the upset in Iowa. Though I receive his emails every day and in my secret heart of hearts still hope he wins in November, I imagined a long struggle with lots of drama over the next few months, fighting to pass Hillary. To see him capture the Iowa caucus, the first one, the first black man to ever win in Iowa.... well, I was unprepared for how happy that would make me! Almost as glad as seeing Rick Neuheisel become the new Bruin headcoach.

If you grew up in the 1960s and marched for civil rights (I didn't - I was three and throwing tantrums not observing sit-ins), this moment must really be big. Everyone keeps saying we aren't ready for a woman or a black man in office. But Iowa - a mostly rural, largely white population showed up in droves (record numbers) to vote for Obama, to put their stamp on a black man, to say with their votes: we can be led by Obama. Wow. Huge.

What a morning to wake up and hope again, a little bit.

Obama 2008!

14 comments:

Tim said...

Here, here...

Great post and totally agree...

Sandie said...

While he is not my top choice for a few reasons, I am not totally opposed to him running the country. What really, really impressed me was the way he ran his campaign. He was all about bottom up, letting the people of Iowa tell him how to connect with them. Hillary on the other hand was all top down, she imported a virtual army and spent horrid amounts of money. I like a person who trusts the people around him and doesn't need to be a total control freak.

NoVA Dad said...

I have to admit that even though I've pretty much been a GOP "lifer," I think I've reached a point where I really feel led to vote based on a candidate's positions and not their political affilation. Last night really got me intrigued about Obama, and I saw - and felt! - an enthusiasm about his candidacy that I just haven't seen or felt with anyone in the GOP. While I haven't yet gone so far as to sign up for emails and such, I'm definitely ginned up enough about this election to investigate more (his two books being on my list of short-term reads); I'm sure I'll still have concerns about some policy positions, but he's definitely one that I see as being a potential healer for the nation, or at least working a bit harder to bring folks together (something that, unfortunately, I didn't see out of the current president - even after having voted for him twice).

Great post.

R. Michael said...

While I was also thrilled about Obama winning in Iowa for the precendent it would set if he won the national election, I remain skeptical that any of the candidates (Rep or Dem), once inside the beltway, could do much about some very deep-seated problems in the U.S.

I think leaders can make a difference, but I don't think anyone can be radical enough to effectively deal with some of our biggest problems i.e. global warming, the economy, immigration, Iraq, N. Korea, dependence on foreign oil, Israeli-Palestinian relations, education, crime, etc.

julieunplugged said...

r michael, I share your skepticism that anyone can make a significant difference in office. But I will say this. The war in Iraq is directly related to who was in office. I don't imagine we would have gone to war if Gore had won (and I freely admit that I voted for Bush).

In that way, I feel we need someone with international sensitivity. Even though Barak has been criticized as not being as connected in terms of foreign policy as Hilary, I feel he's got an edge on every candidate: family in Kenya. His personal experiences of being an expatriate and having personal connections to Africa give him more credibility to me.

So I am mostly hoping for a candidate whose priorities are not to exacerbate strain between the US and the rest of the world. I do think we can vote for a candidate like that.

Ed G. said...

intersting, i've surfing this morning and it seems like the international papers are making a much bigger deal of the history that was made than the US media.

Dave said...

I share your happiness at seeing Obama win, but I'm kind of curious about what you see as "history making" in his win? I mean, it is definitely significant and historic in the sense that he's truly emerged as a mainstream front-runner, but Jesse Jackson was an African-American candidate who won several state races in the 1988 primaries, including Michigan with 55% of the Democratic vote.

Of course, I'm not sure that Jesse was ever regarded by the "establishment" as a truly acceptable eventual candidate, for various reasons. Not meaning to challenge your headline, I suppose, as much as I wanted to point out that Obama's win maybe isn't as entirely unprecedented as some make it out to be.

julieunplugged said...

I suppose what stood out to me is that the state is predominantly white and rural (and so many of the discussions leading up to it were that the race was too close to call, that this was not likely to be the best venue for Obama but that if he could keep close to Hillary etc....).

You are right about Jesse Jackson, but did he win in Iowa? I could easily be misinformed on that.

Dave said...

R. Michael, and Julie too... I agree that no political figure, not even a president, can change the deep-seated problems you allude to. But I do think that someone like Obama could have the effect of getting a lot of people to feel a bit more idealistic, motivated, involved, hopeful, all that stuff, in a way that neither Bush nor Clinton were able to accomplish. Of course, their partisan backers were pretty thrilled at the prospects of "running the country" (to borrow Sandie's interesting phrase) but I think it's pretty indisputable that they also had a rather depressing/divisive effect on people who just didn't go along with their program. For now at least it seems like Obama could connect positively with a broad enough segment of the populace to re-energize the sense of common purpose, civic virtue and the social contract that is imo at such a low ebb in our society at this time. I think that sense of sincerity and wanting to bring out the best in people is what has lifted Obama and Huckabee above their rivals - as I said in my own blog, that may not be the entire solution that the country as a whole is looking for, but it would be a better message to build on than the "screw you, I've got my 51% majority control and there's not much you can do to stop me" attitude that has characterized our government for the last 15-20 years.

Dave said...

No, Iowa 88 was split between Dukakis, Gephardt and I think Paul Simon... Jesse was definitely "too black" for Iowa at that time - so I guess your "makes history" point stands up quite well, thank you! :o)

julieunplugged said...

Dave, I really agree with you about the function of a presidential figure to motivate, animate and inspire. To me, that's the job! It's one reason I don't worry about "lack of experience." It seems to me that the major role of a president (beyond the obvious knowledge of our basic law code, values and international relationships) is the ability to be that spokesperson on our behalf that we can respect and admire and rally behind.

JFK had that X factor and to a large extent so did Reagan and Clinton... despite what their detractors say about them.

Hilary doesn't have it. Huckabee may have it. Obama does have it. At least for now.

Clinton didn't come into the primaries as a real contender until four primaries went by and Howard Dean imploded mid-way through primary season after being the "runaway candidate for change" at the beginning.

So it remains to be seen if Obama can sustain his momentum. But today, it feels good to see that he *has* momentum and such a large number of youth and independents and cross-overs like me are behind him.

julieunplugged said...

(Bill Clinton, I meant, about the primaries).

thechurchgeek said...

I was at a rally a day before the caucus for Obama. There was certainly a sense of excitement and enthusiasm there. I felt pretty certain then and there that he could win the thing.

Obama had the most support of any candidate in our precinct. I think the political process in Iowa helped Obama with all of that, and I wonder how it will be different in those states with primaries instead of caucuses.

Kansas Bob said...

This is what former NJ senator Bill Bradley said:

"Barack Obama is building a broad new coalition that brings together Democrats, independents and Republicans by once again making idealism a central focus of our politics"

I think that idealism is the wind in Obama's sails ... and I ask myself what's wrong with that?